I’ve taught emotional intelligence for 14 years now. One of the most common emotional competencies we teach is empathy. Empathy is perhaps one of our most misunderstood emotional competencies. Most of our folks confuse empathy with sympathy. They think that they are to be sympathetic to the other person on give in no matter what. What we teach them is that empathy is simply being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. To see what they see, to hear what they hear, to feel what they feel.
And when you can do that, you can make connections that are most profound. And it is through these connections that you learn to find solutions that didn’t exist when you didn’t practice your empathy. There is a great video from the Cleveland Clinic that illustrates this point well. Watch it and see if you don’t gain perspective from the video.
I think the death of Robin Williams illustrates this point very well. This man was funny, kind, smart, and very successful. He had no money worries. And yet, he suffered from severe depression. The following quote has been attributed to many people: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” So true. So if we are all fighting these battles, empathy connects us all in a very profound way. So today, take the time to truly listen and understand. And if you don’t understand, ask questions, or just use the magic phrase, “tell me more about that”.
And if you want more methodology around your empathy, check out this Empathy Map:
It gives you some guidelines to follow to help you to work on your empathy skills. Good luck!